One of my biggest pet peeves in the hobby is seeing an amazing saltwater tank with all the great gear but the organization of the equipment is a disaster. Not to mention a safety hazard.
I see it all the time and I have been pretty slack myself when it comes down to organizing aquarium gear properly.
It can be difficult to keep a neat and tidy looking cabinet when you have a bunch of aquarium equipment running under your stand. It can look like a cable bird’s nest with knots, power bars, and controllers all over the floor. Every aquarium owner has had this problem at one point.
By following some great tips, you can organize all your equipment and make others jealous of your neat and tidy set up.
Here are some great ways to organize your aquarium equipment and keep it all looking presentable.
Use an aquarium controller board
Using a controller board is one of the best ways to keep most of your equipment organized. I love opening the cabinet doors of my stand and seeing everything set up the way I like it.
A huge advantage of using an aquarium controller board is you won’t be stressed not knowing if something is working right or plugged into the right port. Monitoring your gear becomes much easier.
Controller boards provide a complete solution to keeping your equipment and cords organized.
There are different types of control boards available from standard boards to deluxe models which are usually larger with more cutouts and features.
Controller board accessories include shelves and lighting. Having at least 1 shelf is important if you are using a dosing pump as you can place the pump or containers on the shelf. It’s also great for storing food containers and bottles.
Controller boards are not expensive and provide huge value and peace of mind for your gear. No more tangled web of cords and controllers.
I recommend the controller boards at Marine Depot.
DIY controller boards are an option if you want to save some cash and you are good with DIY projects. I am a huge fan of aquarium DIY items, but for a controller board, I would rather buy one as they come with the mounting kit and are easy to set up and use right out of the box.
Wire management – keeping cables tidy
Not keeping your cables and wires organized does not only create an unsightly mess but it’s a safety hazard as well. If you add up all the equipment you are using to run your tank, you could end up with 10-15 different cords and cables that need to be put somewhere. Many of these cords are attached to a controller or device. So being able to manage all of these cables is important.
One of the first things I made sure I had is a power bar that I can plug everything into. There are many different power bar units available. I use the ADJ PC100A power bar. You can also use the Neptune energy bar if you want something to use with a controller.
The reason I like the ADJ PC100A is that it comes with lighted rocker switches and it is easy to label so you easily can see which piece of equipment is on or off. This is really important if you need to turn something off quickly. You can plug in 8 pieces of equipment at the same time. If you have more to plug in, just buy a second unit.
Without one of these power bars, you might have many electrical cords plugged into the wall and each other which creates a tangled mess of cords. Grab a PC100A power bar on Amazon here. They are affordable and I am very happy with mine.
Another way to keep your cables tidy is to use zip ties and cable clips. Plastic zip ties have so many uses and I find they work great to keep a few cables held together. They come in many different sizes so you can use them to tie 2 cords together or several cords. Cable clips are great for holding a cable off the floor and onto the side of your stand or controller board. The advantage of the cable clips over the zip ties is the cords are easier to attach and remove. Zip ties need to be cut to remove.
How to hide cords
Have you ever seen an aquarium on an open stand with all those unsightly cables bunched up on the floor? There are much better ways to hide these cables so that they are tidy and out of sight.
The easiest way is to use an enclosed aquarium stand that has doors. This way nothing is seen under the tank. All equipment and cords will be hidden inside the stand.
Another option for hiding cords is to use some PVC tubing and run the cords through it. You can easily add elbows and attach the pipe to the side of the stand or anywhere you need to keep things hidden. If you really want to be picky, you can paint the PVC the same color as your stand to blend in.
You can also use cable covers similar to the ones you would use to keep home theatre cables organized.
Tip: Always label your cords. You can easily make labels or buy them so you know exactly which piece of equipment is plugged into which port. In the event of an emergency, you may need to unplug something quickly and this will allow you to do that.
Inside the aquarium/sump equipment management
It’s not just the equipment and cables for your aquarium that need to be kept organized. If you have a sump tank, there will be certain pieces of equipment inside that will need to be kept in order. Luckily, most gear that you use inside a sump have accessories available to make organization easier.
A sump is a great place to put temperature and PH probes, heaters, protein skimmers, dosing hoses, auto top off equipment. Using a probe holder is a great way to keep your probes organized and not just laying in the tank. Many sumps today will have places built in where you can position your ATO and dosing lines.
As mentioned above, you can use zip ties to keep the cords coming from the sump tidy. A sump with a tangled mess of cords hanging out of it just doesn’t look good.
Electrical safety tips
Having an aquarium with many pieces of electrical equipment can be a fire hazard. Water and power don’t mix. Not only is it a fire hazard but there is a risk of being shocked and faulty equipment could kill your fish. Stray voltage can be very dangerous to you and your fish.
One of the most important pieces of equipment you need to have is a grounding probe. These are inexpensive and will protect you from shock. Don’t let stray voltage in your aquarium. Use a grounding probe like this one.
Drip loops are something that all electrical equipment manufacturers recommend. They are easy to implement and could prevent fire and damage to equipment or your home.
Drip loops will prevent water from running along a power cord into the wall socket or wherever it is plugged in to. If a straight line is formed with a power cord into a socket, gravity can cause the water to flow into it. However, if a drip loop is in place, the water will only flow to the loop and onto the floor. It won’t travel back up the cord and into the outlet.
One of the best ways to keep all your aquarium equipment organized is to use a controller board. Not only does it provide a place to mount and hold controllers and power bars, but they allow for cable management allowing things to look tidy and keeping you and your tank safe.